The conflict goes like this: the engaged who are preparing for their wedding or the bereaved preparing for the funeral Mass of their family member decide that they want a certain song in the liturgy. The pastor, priest, or music director objects, saying that such-and-such a song is not appropriate for divine worship because it is secular, sappy, vulgar, etc. Then the counter objection is made: on the contrary, this song 'mentions God' or is 'very spiritual.'
The first objection is easily dismissed. Just because a song 'mentions God' doesn't make it appropriate for the liturgy. Black Sabbath's "After Forever" (written by bassist Geezer Butler, a Catholic) mentions both God and Christ, and contains senses of eschatological urgency and counter-cultural belief in God that one rarely hears with such sharpness even in church, but this doesn't mean I want Ozzy to sing it at my funeral. For the blog, however, it's a fine inclusion. My funeral music is planned anyway, in a way.
The second objection, that an inappropriate song is 'very spiritual,' is a little harder. Here we are up against a flattening abuse of the term 'spiritual' which goes largely unchecked by preachers and pastors of souls. To the world, something is spiritual when it refers to the non-material life of the person, or the relation of the person to God or the divine in a very general way. For us Christians, however, the term is more specific. The 'spiritual life' and 'spirituality' refer specifically to the activity of the Spirit, the formal principle of the Church Who prays in her and as her both corporately and in her individual members.
But here's my challenge to pastors of souls and music directors on this issue. Who gets to decide which songs are suitable for the liturgy? Is it OCP or GIA? Who gave them this tremendous authority over the theological and catechetical formation of the praying assembly? If they, who are neither God nor the magisterium, can decide that a song is appropriate for liturgy, why not the couple preparing their wedding or the folks trying to mourn the loss of a loved one?
You see, I am begging the question. There is any easy way out of this problem, which is to begin to give up on the option of replacing the actual proper chants of the Mass with songs in the first place. Unfortunately, the option of replacing them has become so normalized that many priests no longer even recall that it is, in fact, a substitution.
Therefore, if pastors are unwilling to even investigate or begin to let go of this option become norm, and are also unwilling to try to preach a corrective against the flattening of the generic uses of 'spiritual' and 'spirituality,' then it's not fair to deny ordinary folks the option of substituting the music they think they want.